Spring Football: An Interview With Head Coach Spike Dykes
Recently Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes spoke on a number of
subjects, including a preview of next season, a look back at the players
of 1996 and the overall football program at Texas Tech. Here are his
"Offensively, I think we are in pretty good shape in a
few positions and very very short in a few other positions. A major
concern is the offensive line. We lost five excellent football players
that have played a lot of football for us on the offensive side of the
ball from tackle to tackle. We really lost all three tight ends from a
year ago. We are really barefoot at that position and we've really got
a lot of work to do."
"The quarterback position is the strength of our football
team. I think Zebbie is self explanatory. I think he has had a great
career at this stage of the game. The best is yet to come. I think,
certainly, he will be everything we ever thought he would be this year.
And, I think in this, his senior year, all the leadership and all the
hard work will pay off. He is the most fierce competitor I have ever
coached. All of those things come into effect when you are a senior.
think Rob Peters behind him has got a chance to be a good quarterback.
Rob has got a great future ahead of him. He has got a lot of talent, a
lot of things he can deal with. I really think he is going to be an
excellent football player. Matt Tittle is behind them. Matt has got
some ability and it will be interesting to see how he does."
"The tailback position is going to be wide open. Anthony
Malbrough, Clint Robertson, James Easterling. I think those guys give
you a chance. All of those guys are unknown quantities. We will just
have to see what happens until they get into game situations. Sammy
Morris, if he is eligible next fall, if he continues to maintain his
current academic position, I think he will do a good job for us at
fullback. He gives you a guy you can depend on and is really a great
athlete. Rudy Renda and Harland Hill are behind him. They are guys we
really don't know much about, but we expect a lot out of."
"We are just about nearly void at the tight end position right
now. We don't have a lot of experienced football players at the tight
end position. Tim Winn, a sophomore walk-on from Longview, has a chance
to come forward. We are moving Terry Patton from defensive tackle to
tight end. Terry gives us a big guy there. We will have to see how
that position comes along. It will be interesting to see how it works,
to say the least."
"The receiver position is probably down in numbers, but the
quality is good. Donnie Hart is a great wide receiver. I think he
proved that last year. He has got a great future ahead of him, a lot of
good catches. He can run across the middle. Malcolm McKenzie really
had a good fall. I think Malcolm has a chance to really come on and be
a good football player, also. Those guys are the prominent ones.
Everyone behind them are sort of unknown at this stage in the game. It
will be interesting to see just exactly how they do. I think we do have
some interesting scenarios. Mark Washington is a guy we think a lot of.
I think he has a chance to be a good football player. I don't think
there is any question Tim Baker has a chance to be a good football
player. We have two or three other guys that it will be interesting to
see how they do. I think we will probably be pretty good at that
position. The receiver position was not very good for us last fall in
terms of productivity."
"Offensive line is where the big question mark is. We
have two guys back that have played a lot. Jay Pugh has been our
starting center for about two years. He gives you a great experienced
guy. He has really worked hard this spring before a leg injury and
should be a good football player. Chris Whitney is another guy that we
feel great about. He has great experience. He has done a nice job of
getting himself ready to play. He has had a great career to this stage
of the game. He has played a lot of football. So, it will be
interesting to see how he does. He has a good future ahead of him.
"Erik Carruth is another guy who has had a pretty good off-season. I
think he has got a chance to be a football player. Justin
Collingsworth, from Pampa, certainly is another guy who has come on and
played pretty good at times last year. The big question marks are going
to be people like Jonathan Gray and Steve McFadden. They have both been
here for a year. They are very talented people. They do not have any
experience and we will just have to see how they do. Jayson Hansen had
a knee injury last season and how he comes off that will be very
important, as far as his productivity is concerned. Kyle Sanders is a
walk-on. Rory Malouf is a walk-on. Jason Belden and John DePasquale
are also both walk-ons. People that really will have a good spring.
Robert Haddon, the jury is still out on how food a player he will be.
"Anthony Patricio, Rick Fielder and Shane Roberts are all interesting
guys. We recruited them because we thought they would have a great
chance to start. We will see what they do when the heat gets turned on
this spring. It should be interesting. We won't be very good on
offense for a long time. But, hopefully, the development will be slow
and steady and will end up with a positive result."
"Defensively, we are excited. We do have a lot of key football
players back. We lost some good football players. Robert Johnson was
a great starter that played for us a long time. Jody Brown is another.
Those guys are guys that played for us a long, long time around here and
they did a nice job. It is going to be tough to lose those guys. Tony
Daniels, Anthony Armour. It's tough to lose great players like them.
Ryan Donohue played so good for us last year."
"We've got good players back on defense. At defensive
end, Montae Reagor has a chance to be a great football player.
Certainly, he is a guy that has tons of ability. He really has played
well up to this stage of the game. Taurus Rucker is another guy who has
a chance to be an excellent football player. Both of those guys played
well last year. Duane Toliver is interesting. Zach Potter is
interesting. Keith Cumby has played quite a bit. Keith has a chance to
be pretty good. That is a good position for him. Kenny Kacal, that's
who will start out at defensive end. That should be a pretty good
position for us."
DEFENSIVE INTERIOR LINE
"The interior line of our defense should be the
strength of our team. Corey Chandler and Cody McGuire give you two guys
who have started for a long time. Two guys who really are good players.
Cody Patton won't go through the spring due to an injury. Terry Patton
has been moved to tight end. Aaron Hancock is still sort of an unknown.
He has had a knee problem so we will see how he responds this spring.
Jason Jones should be a great football player. I think he has a chance
to be one of the best players we have ever had around here. Caleb Rains
and Brian Smith give you two guys who could really be important to our
depth this season."
"The linebackers are sort of interesting. Eric Butler is
back. Eric played a lot last year. This will be his senior year. Eric
has worked hard to be a leader. He has worked hard to be where he is
today. I think he'll do a great job at middle linebacker. Kevin
McCullar is a guy that really played well last year as a freshman. He
has really got a good future ahead of him. Behind them, we have Kyle
Shipley, Tim Duffie, Jonathan Hawkins and Will Culpepper. All of these
guys are really interesting. It is going to be a lot of fun to see how
they do. I don't think there is any question about that.
linebacker position is where there will be some real battles because
that's where the big losses took place. Like I said, when you lose a
guy like Robert Johnson, it does really set you back because Robert
played so long for us. But, Ty Ardoin should come in a do a good job.
He's been there a bunch of times. He's played some. He's done a good
job. Reagan Bownds, we are going to look at him behind Ty. Chet
Phaires is about ready to come through at strongside linebacker. Keith
Cockrum, those guys will have a real dogfight at that position. Don't
undersell Keith Cockrum because he has done a good job for us. At the
Raider position, Duane Price moves in there. Duane is going to be
interesting. It will be hard for Robbie Cartwright or Keith Cockrum to
beat him out. There is going to be a big battle for these positions.
Usually competition breeds success so we will see what happens."
"I think at the cornerback position, we are better off
than we have been in a long time. Tony Darden is one of the best
corners that we have had in years. Corey Turner really came on last
year and developed. Darwin Brown is a guy that played some. Brian
Giddens has played some. Oscar Solis, this is going to be an
interesting year for him. He needs to do a good job. Rickey Hunter, we
are going to start him out at corner. He is a great athlete. We will
see what happens. At the safety position, Dane Johnson really needs to
improve his play. Behind him is going to be Joe Fite this spring. We
are going to give Joe a real chance to go and win that position. We are
going to also try some other guys at that position like Ricky Hunter. We
know right off the bat that have got some people that can play there,
such as Reagan Bownds. So that will be interesting to see how that
works out. The secondary is a position that I feel pretty good about.
"The kicker position, I think is great. I think Jaret Greaser and Tony
Rogers are great. They will continue to do well. I think they can get
nothing but better. The punter, Jeremy Hernandez, started out great
last year, but sort fell on hard times late. Brian Roberson will really
push him to see who is the best punter this spring. At deep snapper, we
are going to really have auditions for that. We are starting out with
Jay Pugh. Jay is pretty good. We will have to provide some
replacements for him."
SENIOR CLASS OF 1996
"The senior class last year that we had Was really
good. We lost 12 seniors off the offensive side of the football. When
you lose that many, it makes an impact. Losing Byron Hanspard, who came
out a year early, made it hard on us. Byron has been such a steady
force for us. Not only had he been a great football player, he's been
there every week. He had been dependable and reliable and is going to
be a guy we really miss. I think when you lose Tony Daniels it really
affects you. Tony Daniels has been a big playmaker for us for a long
time. He has been a guy that has made many, many big plays. And, when
you lose a guy like him, it really does hurt you. Turn right around
and there is a guy like Ryan Jones. Ryan was always there. When Sammy
Morris went down last year and was ineligible, he was there and did a
great job. Ryan is a guy that we are going to miss a lot.
Jones, Dunn and Scherler and Kevin Ward. Those guys all played well on
the offensive line. We are really going to miss them. They are good
players, good athletes. They played a lot of snaps for us. Armour,
Donahue and Johnson. Armour is one of the best players we have ever had
here. Certainly, Robert Johnson would be among the top five or six
defensive players I've coached since I've been here. Ryan Donahue and
Jody Brown, losing those guys really puts you in a bind."
"I think the schedule we have next year is the kind of
schedule that will really challenge our football team. We open up with
a great football team on the road. We will be decisive underdogs over
at the University of Tennessee. It should be a full house. It will
probably be a national television game. It should be really a good game
for us. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. So, that is
the kind of thing we like. North Texas gives you a team that you should
beat. They will be tough. Southwestern Louisiana is sort of a tossup.
They were a heck of a football team last year. We will see what happens
this year. We go to Nebraska. We go to Texas. We go to Oklahoma
State. We have to go to Baylor.
"All of those teams are pretty hard to
beat on the road. Especially Baylor has been a hard place for us. At
Nebraska, Lincoln is bad for everybody. So, we will see what happens in
that thing. The home teams, the games we have coming in here are
pretty good. I like Kansas coming here. I like Kansas State coming
here. I like Texas A&M coming here. That gives us a pretty good home
schedule. Our fans should enjoy it.
"We should have a pretty
interesting season, as far as the schedule is concerned. It is sort of
what you like. The only bad thing about it. We play a game, we are
off. We play two more games and we are off. And, then it is straight
on. That's eight weeks in a row. That's pretty tough. You have
Baylor, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State
and Oklahoma. So, you would like to have one break down there
1997 RECRUITING CLASS
"The recruiting class this year is the best we
have ever had since we have been here. There is no doubt about that. I
don't think it is even really close. We are excited about the incoming
class. We feel like we have some impact football players, right on down
"Antwan Alexander is a great defensive back. Jason Coffey is
a heck of a running back. He will be a great fullback. Jamaal Crisp is
a quarterback that has got success written all over him. Derek Dorris
will probably play next year. Paul Erickson is an offensive lineman
that will take a while. Stoney Garland is a defensive tackle from
Plains (Texas). We recruiting him to where he could play this year. He
should be a great player. Matt Heider is an offensive lineman that will
take a while to play. Sam Hooks is a linebacker. He is a big, strong,
rangy guy that has a chance. J.P. Jansen is a tight end that is going
to grow and has his future ahead of him. Kris Kocurek, a big offensive
lineman we hope doesn't have to play next year. Devin Lemons is a guy
that we think has got a chance to make a good football player. He will
probably play next year.
"Dan Martin is a junior college transfer from
the College of the Desert and I think he will be fine. He is 6-1, 300
and a first-team junior college All-American. He ought to play this
year. Jason May is another guy that could play. He is a two-way player
from (Odessa) Permian (H.S.) and he has a chance to be great. John
Norman. I guarantee John Norman will be in the lineup someplace next
year when we play Tennessee. Dorian Pitts. I think Dorian Pitts may be
the sleeper of the whole class. He has tons of athletic ability. He is
a great player and a great athlete. I think he has a great future ahead
of him. Robert Richardson is a great football player from Dallas Carter
(H.S.). He gives you a big fast guy that can play a lot of different
positions. Hopefully, he will be everything we think he will be.
"Dominic Rhodes is a guy that hasn't qualified yet. If he does, he's
the best running back in Texas. I hope he can. Cole Roberts will have
a chance to be the starting tight end in the first game he is here. We
are going to give him every chance in the world to be successful. It
will be interesting to see how he does. I think he will do great.
David Simmons is a wide receiver from New Braunfels, much out of the
same mold as a Field Scovell. He is a guy that has good tools and is a
good athlete. Anthony Terrell is a defensive back from Houston. He is
a tremendous athlete. He will be playing next year, no question about
him. Detwill Williams is a linebacker, 217 pounds from Estacado. He is
a good player. We may look at him at tight end next fall, also. He has
a chance to be a good player. Lance Williams is a guy that should make
a good college center. He is 6-2, 275. Great Strength and explosion.
I think he has got a chance to really be good. Ricky Williams, is
probably as good of a back that we have recruited in a long time. He
has success written all over him. He will be a good football player."
RED RAIDER COACHING STAFF
"Our coaching staff is the best in the
business. I think John Goodner is the finest defensive coach I have
been around in years. Dean Campbell has been a defensive secondary
coach with the best. I think he has proven that he can coach with
anybody, anywhere. I think he does a great job. Dean Slayton is as
good of a defensive tackle coach as there is in the country. The old
veteran. The crusty old devil has been around a long time and does a
good job. Larry Hoefer is the outside linebackers coach. Larry is a
great recruiter. He has recruited several good football players the
last two years. He is really a great football coach. I am tickled to
death he is on our staff and came here after being the assistant head
coach and defensive coordinator at Missouri two years ago. Doyle Parker
is the old steady, Mississippi River guy that coaches defensive ends.
His guys always play well. He does a great job of developing great
players throughout his career and is one of the finest coaches in the
"Offensively we have a great coaching staff. Rick Dykes
has got a great background. He has good experience. He worked under
the tutelage of Dick Winder for all those years and helped develop some
great football players. He has been a great recruiter for us. He
really did a great job for us in his first year as offensive
coordinator. We had a record-setting offense and the second-best
offense we have had since I've been here and that is pretty darn good.
Clovis Hale gives you a veteran line coach. Clovis and I started
coaching together in 1967 in Big Spring, Texas. Doyle Parker and I
started coaching together in 1966. Jack Tayrien and I started coaching
together in 1967. So, we have got really a great coaching staff.
Clovis Hale is one of the best line coaches I have ever been around in
my life. He was offered the line job here (in 1987) , but went to Texas
with David McWilliams and it is nice that he could come back here. I
think David Moody gives you a guy that is really a talented individual.
He is a good man. He is a Lubbock native. He has done a good job
wherever he has been. Rhudy Maskew is about as good of a coach that I
have ever been around anywhere. Rhudy is a Texas Tech graduate and is a
great motivator. He is a great kicking coach. He understands the
kicking game better than anyone I have ever been around in my life. I
think he is a great football coach. I think a lot of Byron Hanspard's
success last year you can credit to Rhudy Maskew. It is really a good,
good coaching staff."
DIRECTION OF THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM
"I think we are headed in the right
direction right now. We have few negative things right now that most
people go through when they get good. I talked to Bobby Bowden of
Florida State. I talked to Joe Paterno at Penn State. When both of
those teams got good, they had heck happening all of the time. I think
that is just part of the process of being good. You have got to be able
to withstand. You have got to persevere in this business and I think we
are headed in the right direction."
FOUR-STRAIGHT BOWL APPEARANCES
"Four straight bowls is quite an
accomplishment. I think first-team All-Americas three years in a row is
quite an accomplishment. I think there are a lot of things going on at
Texas Tech that are really very healthy. Hopefully, we can get the
negatives behind us and start building on the positives a little bit."
TEXAS TECH FOOTBALL SUPPORT STAFF
"Jack Tayrien, the head of football
operations, is a tremendous guy. I think overall, he is probably, the
key to the strength of our program. He is the glue that holds this
thing together. He has done a great job down through the years of
always being there and being a step ahead of the game. "Our training
staff, Natalie Steadman, Buzz Chisum, they are all great, great people.
They are all people that you can really count on. The student trainers
are outstanding. Donnie Buck and Orville and the managers have given us
great, great consistency down through the years. I think we have a
managerial staff second to none. There is no question about that. "The
best team doctor in college football today is Robert King. I don't
think there is any question about that. I think Michael Robertson is
going to be a great doctor. I think Dr. Burke is great and those guys
give us a lot of expertise and have really done a nice job. They work
so well with our trainers so we have always got that kind of thing
working for us.
"David Hougland is the brightest young video guy on the
scene anywhere in the country. He has turned down three or four chances
to move in the last two years. I think he is an outstanding young
individual who has a great future ahead of him. Our video program here
at Texas Tech is second to none.
"Academics, I think Clint Ramsey has
done an excellent job on an interim basis. Academics have really been
good at Texas Tech. We were the second-leading Big 12 school in
graduation rate in the last poll at 69 percent. That is something we
are really proud of. Hopefully, we can continue to improve on that. We
will probably fall off a little bit because that was an extraordinary
year. But, we really believe that academics are headed in the right
direction. There have been a lot of scholar-athletes on our football
team. The team we have just recruited is very, very good academically
compared to what we recruited a few years ago. I think there is no
question about their abilities. Academics are probably better right now
than they have been in a long time."
SOCIAL LIFE AT TEXAS TECH
"The social life here at Texas Tech is very
good. We are not a commuter school. Most of our student body here, 60
percent, I think, is from over 300 miles from Lubbock. On the weekends
is when the social life at Texas Tech is at its very best. Our guys
have a lot of fun going to school here. They do a good job of taking
care of their business. I think the social life is outstanding."
ATHLETIC EXPERIENCE AT TECH
"I think athletics at Texas Tech is a big
plus. I don't think there is any question that in the last three or
four years we have been as hot a team as there is around and I am really
proud of what they have accomplished. Hopefully, we will continue to
make marked improvement as we go on. I think the interesting thing
about the athletic experience at Texas Tech is that we are old enough
now that we are getting some people out in the community and out in the
state that have graduated from Tech that have been players here who are
doing extremely well. There is not a question about our graduates are
second to none as far as their job opportunities. And, hopefully, that
will continue to improve."
UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT
"I think the Chancellor's support of
our athletic programs is good. He has done a nice job. He is a breath
of fresh air. He is certainly a guy that has really been very, very
hands-on compared to the last president that we had. I am really
tickled to have him. We have got a great faculty here at Texas Tech.
They have really done a nice job of supporting us down through the
years. We have got many caring people on the faculty. They have been
extremely good for every aspect of the game. Hopefully, this
relationship will continue to get better. When it does, I think it is
going to be a great situation."
BIG 12 CONFERENCE
"I think the competition in the Big 12 brings out the
best in everybody, there's no question about that. The season that we
had last year was a little disappointing. We really thought we had a
chance to win the Southern half. So, we were disappointed in the season
record last year. We were disappointed in the outcome. But, I was
pleased with the way we competed. I think we did a good job with that.
Certainly, we would like to be a viable contender for the championship
game and hope that is where we are headed and we will have a chance to
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL IN TEXAS
"I think high school football in the state
of Texas is fantastic. West Texas, because of the population, matches
the Metroplex and other metropolitan areas. I think it has fallen off a
little bit from where it was 25 years ago. Still, West Texas football
is second to none. High school football is still a big event on Friday
night in West Texas. That really makes it a very unique place. The
Metroplex has been very good for us. Over 50 of our players last year
were from the Metroplex. They have done an outstanding job of improving
the football programs in the Metroplex. A lot of great football teams
and a lot of great football programs up there. It is really interesting
that we have had so much success in that area. I do think it is
outstanding that we have had that success and this is where Rick Dykes,
Larry Hoefer, Dick Winder, all those guys have done a nice job of
recruiting the Metroplex down through the years. We really have some
good players from there."
LONGEST TENURE OF FOOTBALL COACH AT TECH
"Well, having the longest
tenure of any football coach at Texas Tech has probably about played its
string out, it looks like (kidding). It has been a great ride and I
have enjoyed every minute of it. I love Tech and I really feel bad
about all of the undue, bad publicity we have had lately. It really
makes you wonder sometimes. It is a sad scenario when you have that
kind of a feeling. It takes a lot of the icing off of the cake. It
really does take a lot of fun out of the game. Still, that is part of
the process, and we will go on down the road and see what happens.
Hopefully, we will make some improvement and see what happens."